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The history of Pennington Infant School

1852 - 1939

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There has been a school in Pennington Village since 1852 and a separate Infant School since 1886. We have found out much about the history of the school, although information about the school before 1930 is very sketchy. If you have any information about the early years of Pennington Infants, or if you are an ex-pupil of the school who has stories, photos or artefacts which will help to develop this archive, please contact us.

The first school in Pennington Village opened in September 1852. The building which housed the school still stands in the middle of the village and is the home of George Kidner Auctioneers. Children had to pay school fees of one penny a week and the school could be very sparsely attended in the summer months, when the children were needed to help in the fields. The school regularly closed for all of June, July, August and September in its early years.

The numbers attending the school increased steadily over its first thirty years. In 1870 there were 131 children on the school books. This large number of children caused the school problems. In 1871 the Headteacher had to contend with a shortage of slates. In the mid 1870's school fees were raised to a penny ha'penny per week but this didn't slow the increase in school numbers. By 1880 there were over 180 children at the school and the budget for school equipment had rocketed to £14 for the year.

The consistent increase in school numbers resulted in the building of a dedicated Infant Department of the School in 1886. The original infant school building still stands in the middle of the village. The land and building were privately endowed to the village by the Pultney family of lyndhurst who owned the majority of the land in and around Pennington. The Infant Dept.opened in September 1886 with Miss Jane Evans as the first Headteacher.

Information concerning the first 40 years of the Infant School is difficult to find, but the small snippets we have found give a flavour of school life in those days. The school was frequently struck with epidemics of scarlet fever and smallpox. Children grew strawberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants in the school garden. This produce was sold around the village to supplement school funds. A concert was held in the mid 1890's with proceeds going to repair the drains. Another concert was held in 1901 with the proceeds of this buying the infant School a piano.

The Headteacher at this time was Miss Eliza Workman, a lady who definitely knew her own mind. Appointed as Head in 1900, she left the school in 1903 to take over as Head of Lymington Infants following her refusal to teach the children of the school to doff their caps to the lord of the manor. She was replaced as Headteacher by Miss Walden.

The next definite information we have about Pennington Infants is in 1930, when we have a copy of the School Inspection Report by Miss E.E.Spencer of 22nd October 1930. The Headteacher in this year was Miss E.M.Colbourne.

There were further inspections in October 1936 and February 1939.

For stories of Pennington Infants during the war years and post-war, please click here to go on to the History of Pennington Infants - Part 2.